2022-12-06 · 7 min read · NFL/Football
L.A. Rams Star Cooper Kupp plus LA Rams and Las Vegas Raiders

Joe Scarnici, Dylan Buell and Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images

Five weeks remain in the regular season, with the playoff races heating up in both conferences.
Only the Houston Texans and Chicago Bears are officially eliminated from playoff contention, and depending on the results this week, the LA Rams could become the first defending Super Bowl champion to miss the postseason since the Denver Broncos in 2016.
Injuries were among the storylines last weekend as the NFC West-leading San Francisco 49ers lost Jimmy Garoppolo for the rest of the year.
At the same time, the Baltimore Ravens might not have Lamar Jackson down the season's homestretch, as they are currently tied with the Cincinnati Bengals for first in the AFC North, while the Rams have added a former number one overall pick who could be behind centre on Thursday.
With all that in mind, here is a look at my Week 14 predictions.
Las Vegas Raiders at Los Angeles Rams
Vegas has climbed back into the playoff picture thanks to its ground game, racking up over 500 yards rushing on their current three-game winning streak as Josh Jacobs has been a one-man wrecking crew, leading the league with 1,303 yards.
Barely anything has gone right for the Rams this season, so perhaps it's appropriate they added someone who's not had a lot go his way lately, claiming Baker Mayfield off waivers.
Despite posting multiple sacks in two of their last three outings, their offense hasn't helped them out, struggling to get anything going with their dismal running game, and missing Cooper Kupp and Matthew Stafford.
  • Prediction- Las Vegas Raiders 35-21 Los Angeles Rams
The Rams have just one victory in their last nine games and look like a broken team, both physically and mentally.
The Raiders are starting to hit their stride offensively, with Devante Adams and Jacobs lighting up opposing defenses.
New York Jets at Buffalo Bills
While the Jets defensively did an excellent job at containing a potent Vikings offense, holding them to under 300 yards, Mike White made a pair of costly interceptions as their comeback fell short, losing 27-22.
The Bills seem to be back on track after some shaky outings, with Josh Allen throwing for a pair of TDs in a 24-10 win over the Patriots, while the league's third-leading receiver Stefon Diggs, had seven grabs for 92 yards and a major score.
  • Prediction New York Jets 17-20 Buffalo Bills
The Jets have done a great job in pass coverage all year, but Buffalo's defense is just as solid as New York's, and I expect them to be a lot better than they were in November when losing 20-17 to these same Jets.
Cleveland Browns at Cincinnati Bengals
The DeShaun Watson era has begun in Cleveland, and the Browns pivot looked like a guy who hadn't played in 700 or so days, completing just 12 of his throws while tossing a pick, but luckily the Browns were playing his old team, the Houston Texans, and wound up winning comfortably, 27-14.
Joe Burrow and Cincy went toe-to-toe with Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs and once again came out on top, as the Bengals put up 431 yards of total offense, while the return of Ja'Marr Chase provided them with a big boost as he caught seven balls for 97 yards.
  • Prediction- Cleveland Browns 20- 30 Cincinnati Bengals
Watson needs more time to fine-tune his mechanics, while Burrow and the Bengals are getting healthy at the right time and are in form, winning their last four games since dropping a 32-13 decision to Cleveland on Halloween.
Houston Texans at Dallas Cowboys
Houston has put up fewer than 300 total yards in their last three games, so it's no surprise to see Lovie Smith's team currently on a seven-game losing streak, with the worst offense in the NFL, while defensively, they've allowed over 300 yards in each encounter this year.
The Cowboys' D-line has dominated opposing blockers, posting three or more sacks in their last three games.
Their offense has been cruising, putting up 122 points in their previous three encounters combined, including 54 in a victory over the Colts last Sunday.
  • Prediction- Houston Texans 20-38 Dallas Cowboys
The Texans didn't allow a single sack to the Browns last weekend, but they will face a much stiffer challenge on Sunday as the Cowboys are faster and more robust than just about every team in the NFL defensively along the line of scrimmage.
Minnesota Vikings at Detroit Lions
Minnesota has won four straight road games and managed to hold onto a 27-22 win over the Jets last week, even though they allowed 486 total yards, while putting up just 287.
An early turnover on the Jaguars' opening drive gave the Lions plenty of momentum at home on Sunday as one of the top red zone offenses in the league won 40-14, with Jared Goff tossing two touchdown passes.
  • Prediction- Minnesota Vikings 33-35 Detroit Lions
Dan Campbell's squad are among the worst defensive units in the NFL, but they have made up for that by creating more turnovers, and offensively they are among the toughest to contain.
Philadelphia Eagles at New York Giants
After posting just 17 points in a narrow win over the Indianapolis Colts in November, Jalen Hurts and the Eagles have scored 75 points combined in their last two games.
AJ Brown has been money in the receiving department, catching two TDs in a 35-10 victory over the Tennessee Titans.
The Giants' running game has slowed down of late as Saquon Barkley averaged just 3.5 yards per carry in a 20-20 tie with the Washington Commanders, while defensively, they have allowed over 400 yards to their opponents in back-to-back contests.
  • Prediction- Philadelphia Eagles 37-24 New York Giants
When Barkley is struggling, so are the Giants, and Hurts should be a handful on the ground and through the air for Brian Daboll's team.
Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers
For Ravens fans, all eyes will be on the health of Lamar Jackson, who hurt his knee in a narrow 10-9 victory over the Denver Broncos, as their third-ranked rushing attack has carried them offensively this year.
It might be too late for Mike Tomlin's Steelers to make a playoff run, but there is plenty to like about this team at the moment should they miss the playoffs, winning three of their last four contests as Kenny Pickett has not thrown an interception in his four successive outings.
  • Prediction- Baltimore Ravens 14-20 Pittsburgh Steelers
With Jackson's status up in the air, the scales should be tipped towards the Steelers, who are slowly progressing and minimizing the mistakes we saw them make offensively in the early portion of the campaign.
Jacksonville Jaguars at Tennessee Titans
A fumble by Travis Etienne on their opening possession seemed to deflate the Jags' offense against Detroit, as Trevor Lawrence completed just 17 throws.
At the same time, their secondary got dismantled by the Lions, allowing 337 yards through the air, including two touchdowns.
Tennessee has lost two in a row, with Ryan Tannehill putting up just 141 yards in a lopsided defeat versus Philly.
In contrast, the third leading rusher in the NFL, Derrick Henry, has been held in check, averaging just 2.7 yards per carry last weekend after earning a 2.2-yard average the previous week when they were beaten 20-16 by the Cincinnati Bengals.
  • Prediction- Jacksonville Jaguars 24-30 Tennessee Titans
Henry should be able to find some more holes against a Jags defensive unit, missing the presence of rookie Devin Lloyd as Jacksonville has allowed at least 100 rushing yards in each of their last three games.
Kansas City Chiefs at Denver Broncos
The Chiefs had eight different receivers catch a pass from leading MVP candidate Patrick Mahomes but couldn't shut down the Bengals ground game, losing 27-24 and snapping a five-game winning streak.
It was the same song different chorus for the Denver Broncos, who have struggled to score all year, dropping their fourth straight contest despite only allowing 10 points to the Ravens in a 10-9 loss.
  • Prediction- Kansas City Chiefs 24-14 Denver Broncos
The Broncos have scored over 20 points in a game just twice all season, and while their defense is stingy, you have to put the ball in the end zone at least a few times to have a chance to beat KC.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at San Francisco 49ers
Tom Brady and the Bucs have won three of their last four games, though they had to do it the hard way on Monday night, erasing a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter to edge the Saint 17-16 with a dramatic winning score, two seconds from the end.
Last weekend, San Francisco was dealt another blow at quarterback as Jimmy Garoppolo was lost for the season with a foot injury.
It comes at a bad time for the Niners, who have allowed fewer than 20 points in each of their victories on their current five-game winning streak.
  • Prediction- Tampa Bay Buccaneers 23-16 San Francisco 49ers
The Bucs lead their division though it has not been pretty, while the Niners' defense could be on the field for a long time without an established quarterback behind centre.
Carolina Panthers at Seattle Seahawks
The Baker Mayfield experiment is offcially over in Carolina, with the Panthers winning two of their last three games, but when you play a team as poor as the Broncos, even Sam Darnold can win you a game.
Seattle ended a two-game slide playing another dismal team in the Los Angeles Rams as Geno Smith threw for 367 yards and they put up 438 yards of offense in a 27-23 triumph.
  • Prediction-Carolina Panthers 19-24 Seattle Seahawks
Smith was not at his best last weekend, but he should have plenty of time to find open receivers against the Panthers, and Geno rarely overthrows his veteran pass catchers.
Miami Dolphins at Los Angeles Chargers
The Miami Dolphins fourth-ranked offense was contained on Sunday as the Niners forced Tua Tagovailoa into two interceptions, as the Fins scored less than 20 points for the first time since October.
The Chargers are having a heck of a time trying to stop the run, causing them to slip further down in the playoff picture, allowing over 100 yards to a running back in three consecutive contests.
  • Prediction- Miami Dolphins 24-14 Los Angeles Chargers
The explosiveness of a Tyreek Hill in screen and dump off patterns in some ways is equivalent to a speedy running back and I anticipate Miami will be able to put up some big gains in those situations this weekend.
New England Patriots at Arizona Cardinals
The Pats have only lost once in their last five contests, yet they sit dead last in the AFC East at 6-6, with their sixth-ranked defense sacking Josh Allen twice in a 24-10 loss to the Buffalo Bills.
Arizona has dropped back-to-back contests as they wasted a brilliant outing from James Conner, who ran for 120 yards but defensively they allowed 246 through the air in a narrow defeat to the Chargers.
  • Prediction- New England Patriots 24-13 Arizona Cardinals
Kyler Murray is mobile and capable of evading would-be tacklers, but the Patriots defensive line could be too much for him and his offense to handle.
Sports Tree Profile

By: Joel Lefevre


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